Emma backs RNIB campaign for sight loss support

December 1, 2015

Emma Lewell-Buck MP, Fazilet Hadi (RNIB), Simon Brown (Blind Veterans UK)Emma is backing a campaign by sight loss charity RNIB to ensure that everyone diagnosed with sight loss receives practical and emotional support to come to terms with their diagnosis.

Emma attended a parliamentary reception where she met Fazilet Hadi of the Royal National Institute of Blind People, and Simon Brown of Blind Veterans UK, for the launch of RNIB’s new report ‘See the Need’. The report calls for every hospital’s eye department in the UK to have access to a sight loss adviser, to support people when they’re told that they’re losing, or have permanently lost, their sight. Remarkably only 30% of eye departments around the country currently have access to a sight loss advisor. With eye departments currently facing increased demand against a backdrop of cuts, ophthalmologists lack the time they’d like to provide support.

Sight loss advisers can provide that support offering advice on everything from remaining in employment, to becoming more independent around the home, reducing the risk of falls and good mental health. Research has also revealed that they can save significant amounts of money for pressurised health and social care budgets. Failure to provide timely advice and support at the point of diagnosis can prevent people from leading fulfilling lives at home, at work, and in the community. Sight loss advisers can help people to develop the skills and confidence that they need to live independently. RNIB’s research found that 87 per cent of patients who had seen a sight loss adviser felt that they had been provided with the practical support needed to live with sight loss.

Emma said:

“It is vital that blind and partially sighted people receive quality, timely support when they’re diagnosed with sight loss. Without the right support available, people can be left isolated, depressed and unable to live independently. I am therefore happy to be supporting RNIB’s campaign for every eye department to have access to a sight loss adviser. Ophthalmologists and their teams are currently under enormous pressure; their clinics are at full capacity, and they are being asked to do more, in spite of Government cuts to resources. Sight loss advisers can help to ease this pressure, providing vital support to patients and signposting them to key hospital and community services. I was disappointed to learn that South Tyneside Hospital does not have any access to a sight loss advisor, the nearest being Sunderland. I have therefore written to South Tyneside Hospital to see if this can be remedied.”

Emma also made a short video at the event which you can watch here.

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